national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


(Joanna Frankel)

Superlative Vivaldi Baroque music, exquisitely played. (Review by Keith Millar)

There can be no better way of brightening up a damp, misty and somewhat chilly Sunday morning than by listening to some superlative Vivaldi Baroque music, exquisitely played by soloist Joanna Frankel, and the Baroque 2000 ensemble.

That is exactly what was on offer at the historical Mariannhill Monastery Church when the Baroque 2000 ensemble, in its 15th anniversary celebration concert, performed Vivaldi’s magnificent Four Seasons group of violin concertos.

Written by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi in 1723, Four Seasons has become one of the world’s most popular and recognised Baroque works of all time.

Each concerto represents a different season of the year and provides wonderful descriptive musical images of that season. Many everyday sounds are heard in the music, such as the singing of birds, the barking of a dog and the buzzing of flies. Also depicted is more dramatic action such as a violent summer storm, the biter chill of icy winds in winter, a peasant celebration in autumn and depiction of a flower-strewn meadow in spring.

Each concerto is accompanied by a sonnet, written by Vivaldi, which describes the scenes depicted in the music. The inclusion of these sonnets in the programme notes certainly added a different dimension to the audience’s understanding and enjoyment of the performance.

Joanna Frankel is a gifted violinist. She has performed widely around the world and is currently concertmaster for the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. She gave a virtuoso performance of Four Seasons concerto’s on her 1846 Joseph Vuillaume violin. It was commanding, exciting and vibrant experience. Frankel is an intriguing artist to watch, as she is very animated and seems to live every note and nuance she plays.

The Baroque 2000 ensemble accompanying Frankel are mostly full time musicians from the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic. Their involvement with Baroque 2000 is a spare-time activity which they partake in because of their love of this genre of music, and because of a desire to promote Baroque works which are not often heard on the main stream concert stage. This sentiment was apparent in their skilful performance which was packed with passion and exuberance.

It was gratifying that a there was a good turnout for this concert despite the inclement weather. Durban audiences can be fickle and often don’t leave home unless the weather is absolutely perfect. However, on this occasion they turned up and were rewarded with a brilliant performance of memorable music.

Baroque 2000 is one of Durban’s cultural gems. Their concerts in the beautiful setting of the Mariannhill Monastery are always a delight. They have two concerts left this year, on November 24 and December 22 (Christmas Programme), both at 11h00 in the morning. Diarise these dates now to make sure you don’t miss out on what are sure to be very special occasions.

Contact Michel on 031 312 5539 or 082 303 5241 or at for more details. (Keith Millar)